Sarah Schulman: An Interview

2018 | United States | English | Color | Stereo | 16:9 | HD video

Collection: New Releases, On Art and Artists, Interviews

Tags: Activism, AIDS/HIV, Interview, Jewish, LGBTQ, Sexuality, VDB Interviews, Visiting Artists Program

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This interview depicts American writer, activist, and AIDS historian Sarah Schulman (b. 1958), discussing becoming a writer, her novels, and her long-term collaboration with filmmaker James Hubbard on projects devoted to gay liberation and AIDS activism. Born in New York to a Holocaust-surviving family, Schulman grew up in an era where women were not considered important. She recalls that she read Anne Frank's diary at the age of six, and was from then on determined to become a writer. Unapologetically undisciplined, Schulman emerged simultaneously as a journalist and a playwright in the late seventies. Also a prolific novelist, Schulman sees that it is the job of the writer to show how people understand their own lives, she says, "It is a very hard thing to fake". Schulman confesses that her honest portrayals of queer intimacy come with a price: many of her novels don't get published until years later.

This interview also peeks into her projects related to film and video. Unbelievably attentive to names and dates, Schulman recounts the genesis and development of her two collaborative projects with James Hubbard, MIX: The New York Queer Experimental Film Festival; and the ACT UP Oral History Project, an accumulating collection of video interviews of all surviving members of ACT UP (AIDS Coalition To Unleash Power). Continuing in the vanguard of activists fighting against social injustice and institutional hypocrisy, Schulman shares anecdotes from her early years and gives advice to post-millennial activists.

Interview conducted in 2017 by Adam Greteman.